Ignoring the Red Flags?

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated May 23, 2014

When my friend first sent me a text that the FDA approved a drug that was five times more potent than OxyContin, I laughed. I thought it was a joke, but the more I read about Zohydro, the more I knew that it was no laughing matter.

Once Zohydro is released, it will be the most powerful painkiller on the market hands down. Even OxyContin, which was initially created to help treat severe pain caused by cancer, isn’t nearly as strong as Zohydro, but has led to addiction in millions of people for years.

Working in addiction and seeing how easily accessible prescription drugs are makes me extremely concerned about the FDA’s approval of this drug. Despite every advance that has been made to deescalate the prescription drug epidemic, the FDA is putting forth something that will only add to the creation of new addictions worldwide. Unfortunately, this action is contradictory and makes me wonder about how the face of addiction might change once the public gets their hands on Zohydro.

One thing I am most concerned about is how this drug will be regulated. I just recently read an article in the LA Times that talked about a study that was conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study showed that 27.3% of prescription drug abusers are getting their pills directly from their doctor – not a friend, family member, or drug dealer. My thought is, if this many people are already abusing the prescription drugs that are out there at this alarming of a rate, how many more people will be added to that statistic once doctors start prescribing Zohydro?

I wish I could find a solid reason as to why this drug is being approved by the FDA, but based on what I have experienced, what I see on a daily basis, and where I think this epidemic is going, I cannot find one. I feel that it is important that we look at the existing problem that we have with prescription drugs in this country before we add fuel to the fire. I see people come into Northbound that are addicted to drugs just like these, and to know that we are taking a step backward is frustrating.

What we are up against is more than enough, and I personally hope to see more responsibility on behalf of everyone who is involved in handling prescription drugs in the future.


Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.